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Which Came First, the Mutation or the Antibiotic?
Understanding Antibiotic Resistance Through Fluctuation Analysis
Suzanne M. Deschênes
Rosemary M. Danaher
This case study presents the story of Phil, an undergraduate majoring in biology, whose Russian cousin Dimitri has contracted tuberculosis (TB) from inmates at the prison where he works. Phil learns that his cousin's failure to complete his antibiotic regimen likely contributed to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant TB in his body. Phil consults with his friend Stacy, and together they try to understand Dimitri's condition by applying what they are learning in their genetics lab experiment about the role of random mutation in bacterial evolution (including the development of antibiotic resistance) through Luria- Delbrück fluctuation analysis. The same analysis includes calculation of the mutation rate, which Phil realizes is sufficient to cause MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections. This case study was originally developed for concurrent use in freshman/sophomore-level genetics, elementary statistics, and precalculus. However, it is also very appropriate for courses in introductory biology, evolutionary biology, and biostatistics. The teaching notes discuss various ways to run the case depending on the mathematics and biology background of students.
|Keywords:||Antibiotic resistance; antibiotic; mutation; mutation rate; Staphylococcus aureus; Staph infection; MRSA; Luria-Delbruck; fluctuation analysis; evolution; Poisson distribution; bacteria|
|Educational Level:||Undergraduate lower division|
|Type/Method:||Analysis (Issues), Directed|
|Subject Headings:||Biology (General) Genetics / Heredity Evolutionary Biology Medicine (General) Microbiology Mathematics Statistics|
|Copyright:||Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.|
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Below is the Excel simulation for the Luria-Delbrück fluctuation test used in Part II of the case study.Simulation